Personal selling is a component of the promotional element of marketing. It is face-to-face selling with prospects. Salespeople meet with prospects, build rapport with them, ask needed discovery questions to understand their problem or situation, and make recommendations on solutions. This function has several common objectives in selling organizations.

Inform Customers

One objective of personal selling aligns closely with other promotional techniques, including advertising and public relations. It is the goal of informing targeted prospects about the benefits of your solution and what needs it helps meet. This objective normally applies when introducing a prospect to an unfamiliar or complex product or service. The idea is that before you can persuade someone to buy something, he needs to understand its basic purpose.

Buying Persuasion

Perhaps the most central objective to personal selling is persuading customers to buy. This is what makes sales critical within the overall marketing and promotions system. It is a much more assertive approach to communication with buyers than advertising. Salespeople try to build basic rapport and trust and then discover the unique needs of a prospect. They then align the best solution they can to address those needs and then try to answer the customer question, "What do I gain from this purchase?" This is most effectively answered with strong benefits statements and proof through demonstrations.

Address Concerns

A major advantage of the personal selling approach relative to other forms of promotion is the back-and-forth conversation between buyer and seller. This gives the prospect a chance to bring up questions or concerns that would impede him from buying. Drawing out these concerns is a key objective in personal selling, because you have to address them with clear, effective information that overcomes them. This is often the difference between creating sales and having a customer walk away because of doubt or uncertainty.

Maintain Relationships

From a long-term perspective, salespeople in the early 21st century must work to maintain relationships with core customers. This has led sales organizations to invest in customer relationship-management software to help track prospects during the selling process and to maintain customer profiles. With this objective in mind, salespeople commonly make follow-up visits or calls to see how the customer experience with a product or service is going. They take opportunities to make add-on sales and resolve any customer issues that come up.